Okay, I know I said not to get worked up about the preseason. And I firmly believe that. But if you are going to care about the preseason—and I did mention this when I said not to care, so you can’t wedge anything in on me!—let it be toward the end when the bona fide NHLers start to ramp up their effort, and the systems get finalized.
It was, at the very least, encouraging to watch the New York Islanders look cohesive on the attack and on defense against the New York Rangers, a team that people fall all over themselves to declare the league’s next best team. Both teams lined up, for the most part, how they expect to look when they drop the puck.
Among the most encouraging parts, too, is that the young guys, like Robin Salo and Kieffer Bellows, look poised to contribute regularly. We shall see if it continues.
- Recaps from last night: Mathew Barzal and Zach Parise joined Bellows as the Isles’ goal-scorers. [3 Takeaways] Alex Romanov crushed some guys, and Ross Johnston and Jarred Tinordi wrestled. [Rapid Recap]
- Lane Lambert liked what he saw, too.
“We battled, we defended hard and we were good there at the end when it was 5-on-6.”— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 9, 2022
More from Lambert ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/yfg0bxwjHN
- Romanov did get in trouble for one of those hits, though: He was fined $5,000 for charging Vincent Trocheck. [NHL]
- Cal Clutterbuck and Scott Mayfield remained out of the lineup, so their availability for opening night is in question. Bellows looks to have earned a spot in Oliver Wahlstrom’s absence. [Newsday]
- The time has come for the Islanders to reassert themselves as contenders and prove that last season was a fluke. [Newsday]
- Anthony Beauvillier rebounding would be key to the Isles reasserting themselves. He is one player whose down year contributed to last season’s malaise, but he knows he’s better than that. [NY Post]
- Three other keys include Barzal getting back to his offensive ceiling, starting the season on the right foot, and getting the extra points from overtime games. [Newsday]
- The stylistic change—emphasizing rush play, player movement, and shooting the puck—has been noticeable. That’s because the hungry Islanders have embraced it. [NY Post]
- The new system fits Salo’s game, and he’s a virtual lock to be the sixth defenseman. [NY Post]
- Brendan Burke found his dream job calling Islanders games. [Newsday Video] But he’s a normal Long Island dad, too. [Newsday Article]
- The Nashville Predators completed the two-game sweep of the Global Series against the San Jose Sharks. [NHL]
- Darryl Sutter received a two-year extension for a little job security as coach of the Calgary Flames. [NHL]
- Old friend Kyle Okposo has been named the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres. The veteran has taken on a leadership role with the new young core over the last few seasons. [NHL | Sportsnet]
- ESPN does a prediction roundtable, and Arda Öcal, a long-time believer in the Islanders, thinks they prove last year was a fluke.
- The Athletic projects that Ilya Sorokin will receive some Vezina votes, especially if the Islanders return to the playoffs, and some even think that Lou Lamoriello swings for the fences and gets Patrick Kane to play with Barzal. [The Athletic]
- That being said, the Islanders come in at no. 27 on the fans’ Hope-O-Meter, which is right where they belong. It’s good to be back. [The Athletic]
- Wayne Simmonds is available.
With season-opening rosters finalized tomorrow afternoon, TOR sent email making it known 1,019-game vet Wayne Simmonds is available. Return is not as important as "doing right by the player." Simmonds has said he feels good and very much wants to play. Hopefully, there's a path.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 9, 2022